The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping people in need throughout the United States. Most of the country may not realize how much the Red Cross accomplishes this noble calling through the dependency on the generous contributions of time, blood, and money from the American public to support their lifesaving services and programs. The American Red Cross also partners with other Red Cross networks, throughout the world to help some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. “Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D. C. on May 21, 1881” (Red Cross, 2013d, para. ). Barton accomplished several overseas missions for the Red Cross but eventually came back to the United States and continued her domestic and global efforts for the next 23 years (Red Cross, 2013d).
The Red Cross received their first congressional charter in 1900, and the second in 1905, which is still in effect today. The charter “…sets forth the purposes of the organization which includes giving relief to and serving as a medium of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation” (Red Cross, 2013d, para. ). Since 2006, the Red Cross and FEMA have partnered together to help various government agencies and communities plan and coordinate the provision of food and shelter for people affected by disasters (American Red Cross, 2013d, para. 8). Today, there are over a thousand local chapters throughout the United States (American Red Cross, 2013e, para. 3) that continue the mission of the American Red Cross, fueled by loyal volunteers and contributors. . Organizational Culture
The culture of the American Red Cross is built on its dedication to a contemporary mission and vision statement which will guide it through the 21st century, along with seven fundamental principles. Stop «»Mission Statement (Red Cross, 2013c, para. 1). “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. ” Vision Statement (Red Cross, 2013c, para. 2). The American Red Cross, through its strong network of volunteers, donors and partners, is always there in times of need.
We aspire to turn compassion into action so that all people affected by disaster across the country and around the world receive care, shelter and hope; our communities are ready and prepared for disasters; everyone in our country has access to safe, lifesaving blood and blood products; all members of our armed services and their families find support and comfort whenever needed; and in an emergency, there are always trained individuals nearby, ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives.
The seven fundamental principles of the Global Red Cross Network consist of the following: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, and Universality (American Red Cross, 2013c). These fundamental principles are used as a basic foundation in which to build from and guide all of the Red Cross communities across the globe; keeping everyone in tune with the core values and mission established by Clara Barton so long ago.
The Board of Governors serves as the governing body of the American Red Cross, which has all powers overseeing and directing the leadership and management of the business and affairs of the organization. The corporate governance principles of the American Red Cross are found in the Congressional Charter and a series of documents that are reviewed periodically, by the Board of Governors, to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the organization and reflect best practices (Red Cross, 2013a, para.
1). In 2007, the American Red Cross devised a comprehensive governance reform that was signed into law by the President of the United States. This reform was an effort to modernize the Board, and provide a more clear oversight and strategic role for the Board. Highlights of governance reforms include: ensuring that Governance procedures provide clear guidance about expectations and enhance Board and individual Board member performance (American Red Cross, 2013a, para. 2). Organizational Leadership over Time
The Chairman of the Board and the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), like most executives, play a significant role in the stabilization and future growth of the American Red Cross. The Chairman leads the Board of Governors in the oversight of the organization while the President and CEO implements strategic organizational development and leads the operations of the Red Cross.
Currently, two women hold the honor of Chairman and CEO of the American Red Cross; Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and Gail McGovern, respectively (Red Cross, 2013b). “Ms. McElveen-Hunter is the former U. S. Ambassador to Finland (2001 – 2003) and the CEO and owner of Pace Communications, Inc. , the largest private custom publishing company in the United States” (Red Cross, 2013b, para. 2) and was appointed as Chairman of the American Red Cross on June 17, 2004. “Gail J. McGovern was named President and CEO of the American Red Cross on April 8, 2008. After previously holding top management positions at AT&T Corporation and Fidelity Investments…” (Red Cross, 2013b, para. 3). McGovern has extensive experience running large organizations and a proven track record for improving performance (American Red Cross, 2013b).
Current Organizational Development Phenomena Since the inception of the new CEO, Gail McGovern, in 2008, the American Red Cross has undergone several structural changes in an effort to maximize the organizations impact with its available resources. According to McGovern, these efforts to “…improve operational efficiency, cutting unnecessary expenses, modernizing our technological systems, or standardizing blood collection labeling” (Red Cross, 2012, pg. 1) are all directed towards the goal of providing optimal care for those in need.
Just in the last year two years alone, the American Red Cross has assisted the tornado victims of Joplin Missouri, which claimed more than 150 lives in 2011; helped those afflicted by numerous wildfires burning in various parts of the West; supplied aid to victims of floods in Florida, due to Tropical Storm Debby; provided much needed help to those living near the Northeast coast who suffered from extensive power outages and damage from Hurricane Sandy, and many, many more vital services that go largely unmentioned throughout the country (Red Cross, 2012).
The American Red Cross, clearly, will never run out of work; which requires a leader that is creative, resourceful, dynamic, fluid, and up for complex challenges in an ever changing landscape. Organizational Development Needs The first step in approaching a national giant such as the American Red Cross is to obtain a meeting with current president and CEO, Gail McGovern, for a meaningful dialogue and assessment of her vision for the future of American Red Cross the brand, and American Red Cross the organization (i. e. employees, volunteers, contributors).
Clear expectations and limitation on what the organization development consultant’s role will be during the process, as well as future follow-up assessments, must be defined. A well established theory of organizational development, tailored to the American Red Cross, must be adhered to. In this case, I recommend the socio-technical systems theory first developed by Eric Trist. This theory incorporates the idea that organizations are comprised of, and interdependent of, two systems: social and technical; realizing that changes in one cause changes in the other.
This approach is best utilized by organizations that directly rely on their material means for their output, and at the core of their existence lays an almost indecipherable difference between their human and non-human systems (Van de Ven & Joyce, 1981). Together, the consultant and the CEO will determine how these two components (social and technical) interact within and around the American Red Cross organization, and assess feedback and synergy between the systems for optimal effectiveness. Secondly, a data gathering method must be decided upon to obtain the most relevant and accurate information for basing an organizational strategy upon.
There are several methods available, each with inherent positive and negative considerations. However, the CEO must establish what types of information the consultant may and may not have access to; this will limit the choices of methods available. For a national organization that is also a part of a global organization, such as the American Red Cross, a survey/questionnaire is recommended, which focuses on the current climate of the cultural perceptions of the organization by the employees and volunteers.
This method allows a consultant to quickly yield data, address a broad range of topics, compare the data across groups, maintain anonymity, and easily repeat the process for follow-up purposes for the next two years and beyond. Other data gathering methods such as observation and focus groups are also recommended but with full disclosure and acknowledgement that they are both time-consuming and limited for a national organization; consideration should be given to reserve these methods for upper-level management as needed (Anderson, 2012, pp. 119-150).
Once the information desired is agreed upon with Gail McGovern, then the method and design of the data gathering tool can be implemented. Next, gathering and interpreting the data correctly to ensure maximum benefit for the proposed intervention(s) is critical. I suggest using a detailed system of deductive analysis that makes coding data easier, helps with data interpretation, and communicating it to the client. It would also be useful to also incorporate inductive analysis as well to pull out key themes that may be evident (Anderson, 2012, pp. 19-150). Once, this is done, a feedback meeting, with Gail McGovern, should be set up to discuss the results derived from the data, proposed intervention(s), and strategic planning. Keep in mind, however, the data should be reviewed at least one more time prior to the meeting to ensure that it accurate, and has not violated any established ethical considerations. This attention to detail cannot be emphasized enough as the interpretation of the data unveils the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
This, in turn, will directly affect the stability and future direction of the organization as it strives to grow and thrive in a vastly competitive environment over arguably shrinking economic resources. Organizational Development Recommendations Based on the results and interpretation of the data, intervention(s) may be suggested that are in line with Gail McGovern’s vision for American Red Cross; a vision for stability and increased revenue and partnerships (Red Cross, 2012).
Therefore, I would turn your attention to the Kotter’s Model (Kotter International, 2012) as a step-by-step guide for a national organization, with a global reach, that embraces change and is ready to whole-heartedly commit to such a program that is proven to yield incredible performance benefits when followed long-term (see both Chart 1 and Chart 2-pg. 12). Implementing step one is vital, developing a sense of urgency (Kotter International, 2012). The CEO must develop a sense of urgency, regarding her vision for the future of the American Red Cross, amongst the employees, volunteers, and contributors.
This is accomplished by first determining the current climate of the organization through the data gathering methods mentioned previously, which establishes a base-line from which to monitor progress, and then devising organization strategies (media, social-media, print-media, etc…) to disseminate the vision quickly and develop the sense of urgency necessary. The second step of Kotter’s Model involves putting together the right coalition of people to lead a change initiative which is critical to the success of McGovern’s vision for the future (Kotter International, 2012).
The American Red Cross currently has a stellar mix of dedicated people at the highest levels. However, objective observation and analysis of upper-level team meetings is recommended in order to evaluate current synergy, or lack thereof, and add team building workshops as needed to address and facilitate trust, relationship building, communication and collaboration across various branches of the organization. In a rapidly changing world, complex organizations, such as the American Red Cross, are forced to make decisions more quickly and with less certainty than they would like. Effective leaders must make productive decisions under these ircumstances; therefore, it is paramount that all of the teams develop a level of trust in one another.
The third step involves establishing a clear vision which serves three important purposes (Kotter International, 2012). A clear vision simplifies the complex, motivates people, and helps implement the actions efficiently. McGovern must be unmistakably clear in stating her vision for the American Red Cross, the path in which the organization must follow to be successful in accomplishing the vision, the expectations of each leader who reports directly to her, the benchmarks for measurement of progress, and a method for objective follow-up.
The fourth step is gaining an understanding and commitment to a new direction (Kotter International, 2012). This step is imperative to core of the vision. In order to establish an understanding and commitment to the new vision for the American Red Cross from the current leaders, McGovern must commit herself to communication in all ways, and at every level of the organization possible. Multiple channels of communication must be used to enforce the message of the vision, and up-dates on the progress, frequently to keep everyone aware of the goal, and their importance to the overall success of the organization.
This can be accomplished in various ways, such as: daily motivational huddles (15 minutes or less to focus on the days objectives), monthly meetings to maintain continuity, quarterly newsletter to monitor progress, yearly meetings with upper-management to communicate goals and celebrate achievements. The fifth step involves empowering broad-based action (Kotter International, 2012). Having a clear and realistic understanding that creating a new vision, and establishing new cultural norms, is not without its obstacles is essential to McGovern as she attempts to realign the American Red Cross with her vision.
Implementing proven management problem-solving methods, as well as on-going training is crucial. Furthermore, all action plans must be analyzed in order to ensure that management has all of the necessary tools and up-to-date information for successful implementation of the change vision. Lastly, utilizing electronic surveys help to speed up feedback and provide information for people to do their jobs more efficiently.